The relative importance of stratiform and convective rainfall in rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones

Cheng Tao, Haiyan Jiang, Jonathan Zawislak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Using 16-yr Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) observations, rainfall properties in the inner-core region of tropical cyclones (TCs) and the relative importance of stratiform and convective precipitation are examined with respect to the evolution of rapid intensification (RI) events. The onset of RI follows a significant increase in the occurrence and azimuthal coverage of stratiform rainfall in all shear-relative quadrants, especially upshear left. The importance of the increased stratiform occurrence in RI storms is further confirmed by the comparison of two groups of slowly intensifying (SI) storms with one group that underwent RI and the other that did not. Statistically, SI storms that do not undergo RI during their life cycle have a much lower percent occurrence of stratiform rain within the inner core. The relatively greater areal coverage of stratiform rain in RI cases appears to be related to the moistening/humidification of the inner core, particularly in the upshear quadrants. In contrast to rainfall frequency, rainfall intensity and total volumetric rain do not increase much until several hours after RI onset, which is more likely a response or positive feedback rather than the trigger of RI. Despite a low frequency of occurrence, the overall contribution to total volumetric rain by convective precipitation is comparable to that of stratiform rain, owing to its intense rain rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-809
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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